GUILDERLAND, N.Y. – New York teacher Bob Baker is now known as the Guilderland Grinch.
Police contend Baker earned the moniker from WNYT after he allegedly tried to steal toys from a Christmas toy drive at Guilderland High School and was busted as he loaded his haul into his vehicle in the school parking just before Christmas.
“It’s so inappropriate and I think that’s why the decision was made to charge him with a larceny,” Guilderland Police Deputy Chief Curtis Cox told the news site.
Authorities charged Baker with petty larceny for the attempted theft of about $400 worth of toys donated by students in his classroom in the weeks leading up to winter break.
“Mr. Bob Baker gave the kids extra credit if they brought in toys, but he’s no longer teaching at the school,” WNYT reporter Asa Stackel said. “He’s on paid administrative leave after he was allegedly caught with all those toys in the back of his SUV.”
The toy drive was put on by the school’s teaching assistants, and the toys were set to be donated to needy children. But school officials contend Baker kept his box of toys in his classroom after the toy drive ended, and was later confronted when hauling a large box out to his car on the Friday before Christmas, according to the news site.
“Unfortunately, we find out he was taking those toys for himself,” Cox said.
Baker allegedly told one school administrator the box was full of old files, and told another it contained school supplies. He eventually admitted to taking the toys when confronted at his vehicle at the end of the day, and said he planned to bring them to a different toy drive at his wife’s work, police told WNYT.
Guilderland Schools Superintendent Marie Wiles wouldn’t discuss Baker’s future in the district, but said the toys were recovered and distributed to children in need on Christmas.
“It’s unfortunate,” she said. “We’re hoping there are good intentions behind all of this, but we’re concerned perhaps our students were misled.”
Of course, folks are sounding off about the attempted theft online.
“What a complete idiot!” commenter “JoMamma” posted to WNYT. “What’s in the box? If he couldn’t come up with ‘I got to get these toys to the needy kids’ instead of ‘old files,’ he’s not smart enough to be a teacher or even a career criminal! This jacka** just lost his $70K+ per year job with all the nice benefits too.”
Shane De Leon wrote that Baker’s arrest puts his past experiences with the teacher into a new perspective.
“I remember his class a few years ago,” De Leon posted. “He was a nice guy, but he used to sell candy to ‘raise money for the trip to Europe’ until the administration told him not to. I’m beginning to question the integrity of that in retrospect.”